Know Your Plastic Recycling Number!

Snippet from smartplanet.com article.

1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) is one of the most common types of plastic and is commonly found in bottles of soda, juice, water and cough syrup and jars of peanut butter. The bottoms of these containers are usually stamped with the chasing arrows symbol and the number 1, the code for PET.

2. High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
High-density polyethylene, or No. 2 HDPE, is used in shampoo and detergent bottles, milk jugs, cosmetics, motor oil, toys and sturdy shopping bags, and is considered one of the safer plastics. HDPE is often opaque or cloudy. Some recycling centres can only handle clear No. 2 plastics, such as milk jugs, but not colored bottles. As rule of thumb, bottles, jars, and jugs are most likely to be collected for recycling, particularly those labelled 1 or 2. Tubs, lids, spray pumps, buckets, films, bags and items containing toxic chemicals such as drain cleaner, are less likely to be accepted by recyclers.

3. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
Polyvinyl chloride, or No. 3 PVC, is found in shower curtains, meat and cheese wrappers, ring binders, some bottles, plumbing pipes and building materials. Commonly called vinyl, PVC and closely related PVDC differ from other vinyls, which lack the toxic chloride. PVC continues to be used in many toys.

4. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
Low-density polyethylene, or No. 4 LDPE, is used in shopping bags, six-pack rings, hard drive casings, CD and DVD cases and some bottles. Unlike PVC, LDPE isn’t regarded as a ‘bad’ plastic by most eco watchdogs. Potentially toxic industrial chemicals involved in its manufacture, however, include butane, benzene and vinyl acetate.

5. Polypropylene (PP)
Polypropylene, or PP, is used in the products in this photograph as well as in nappies, pails, dishes, candy containers and lab equipment. The purple product pictured here is made from recycled polypropylene from Recycline. Makers of electronics packaging, including Microsoft, are increasingly using the recycled material instead of toxic PVC.

6. Polystyrene, or Styrofoam
Polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, is used in disposable cups and take-out food containers, packing peanuts, trays and egg cartons. Most fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, phased out polystyrene for sandwich containers more than 20 years ago. Ozone layer-depleting CFCs haven’t been used to make Polystyrene since the late 1980s.

7. ‘Wild card’
The No. 7 SPI code is generally a wild card marking plastics that don’t fall within the other six categories. These include polycarbonate bottles, which are understood by scientists to wreak havoc on human hormones by leaching bisphenol-A into hot beverages. As a result, polycarbonate baby bottles are losing favour with the public, and retailers including Toys ‘R Us are starting to sell more BPA-free bottles.

Thanks Smartplanet.com

This entry was written by dustbowl and published on June 14, 2008 at 12:15 am. It’s filed under Colors / Materials Trends, Environment / Sustainability. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Know Your Plastic Recycling Number!

  1. First, you should know that you rank really well for “plastic number”. 😉

    Thank you for spelling it out for me. I knew the number had to do with recycling but could not figure out which number meant what. Great post and great photos as well!

  2. I was very glad to come on to your website and find pictures of all the plastic container,and to relize all the valuable recycleable stuff I’ve been throwing away. The recycleing compay wanted to give me 1 cent for milk containers and later I found out they were worth over
    50 cents. Thanks

    • judybroc on said:

      Where can you turn in the milk containers for their true value (50cents)? How do we avoid being stuck with what the recycle companies will give us?

      • The value of Plastic changes each month… and each type is valued diferently. Currently, HDPE #2 or Milk Jugs are the most valuable of all plastics, and are only selling at 30 cents per pound, and it takes about 15 empty jugs to equal 1 pound. So, the recycle companies are essentially giving you 50% of their profit. Not a bad deal. Esspecially when you factor in the cost to sort the plastic, bale the plastic and the labor to drive the forklift and other machines before your milk jug is placed on the customers truck. Recyclers are basically left with a 15% margin, which just barely makes it worth the investment. You should be happy getting a penny if you ask me – because a landfill would charge you about 3 cents per pound to dispose of it.

  3. Piyush Soni on said:

    I always wanted to find a way to know which plastic different containers are made of.. These numbers will help me identify that to a large extent now..


  4. Thank you, i am also recycling 🙂

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